Tooreen's dreams of making it to Croke Park came to an end in Tullamore last Saturday when they exited the All Ireland championship at the hands of Cork and Munster champions, Fr O'Neills.
When they look back on the game Tooreen will regret the number of chances they missed and their inability to turn the screw on their opponents when they were playing with a two-person advantage for a number of minutes in the second half.
But the Blue Devils can take plenty of heart from their season where they regained the Connacht Intermediate title and put it up to a side who had a number of players who won the Cork senior championship with divisional side Imokilly, such as star full forward Deccie Dalton, who finished up last Saturday's game with ten points.
The Cork champions raced out into an early 0-4 to 0-0 lead thanks to scores from Paudie Mahon, Mark O'Keefe and two frees from Dalton inside the opening ten minutes. Tooreen had chances themselves in those opening exchanges but Séan Kenny saw a 70m free come back off the post and and pulled another one from closer range wide of the target.
They did get the scoreboard moving in their favour just after the ten minute mark when Shane Boland hit half a dozen points over the course of the contest, slotting over a free from a tight angle out to the right.
Dalton replied with a score on the run almost straight away before Shane Boland hit his second score of the day from another placed ball, on the quarter of an hour mark. Tooreen had plenty of the ball - but their wayward shooting continued and the Cork champions added on two more scores to go into a 0-7 to 0-2 lead, before Tooreen registered their first score from play through a fine Fergal Boland effort.
Fr O'Neills, who also missed a number of chances, were just that bit more clinical and went into an eight point lead with five minutes left in the half thanks to three rapid fire points from O'Keefe, Billy Dunne and a powerful Dalton effort.
The Mayo champions upped their game before the end of the half with Kenny Feeney driving over a long range free and Shane Boland tapping over his third point of the half from a free - the Tooreen number 13 did have a chance to cut the gap even more from another free before the short whistle but his effort edged wide of the target and his side went in trailing 0-10 to 0-5 at the turn around.
First blood in the second half went to Tooreen with Kenny Feeney hammering over a long range free, before Dalton and Kevin O'Sullivan added points for the Cork champions - in between those scores the Cork men were reduced to 14 men when Mark O'Keeffe was shown a straight red card following a clash out on the far side of the field.
Tooreen's advantage on the field was increased even more on 41 minutes when Fr O'Neill's saw a second man sent to the line when Billy Dunne was shown a straight red by referee Chris Mooney.
The Mayo men then reeled off two points on the spin with Shane Boland and Cathal Freeman driving over points and the comeback looked on, but the Cork side came right back at them with Dalton hammering over two points from frees to go six clear with less than 15 minutes left in normal time.
Shane Boland cut the gap to five points with a well-taken point after he was fouled himself and out on the left hand side of the field and then with 51 minutes gone on the clock it looked like the goal Tooreen craved had arrived, when Séan Regan hammered the ball home on the run - but referee Mooney saw an infringement in the build-up and ruled the goal out.
To add insult to injury, from the very next play, Cillian Broderick, who had just come on, hit a fine point to put his side six clear again on a score of 0-15 to 0-9. Fergal Boland cut the gap back to five points on 52 minutes and two minutes later, Tooreen got the goal they deserved when Kenny Feeney showed great strength to win the ball inside the danger area, hold off his man and launch it to the back of the net with a powerful pull.
That left just two points between the teams with six minutes of normal time to go and Tooreen with a two point advantage - but it was the Cork men who struck again next through a Dalton point and Tooreen were reduced to 14 men when Feeney looked to be harshly shown a red card, following a coming together with Fr O'Neill's goalkeeper Colin Sloane.
Kevin O'Sullivan and Gary Nolan swapped points as the game ticked into eight minutes of injury time, but the Cork side were able to run down the clock, frustrating the Tooreen faithful and tagging on two more points before the end, with only Shane Boland's pointed free to show for brave effort of Tooreen in the closing exchanges.
Tooreen gave it their all and having shown they can mix it with the best again this year, they will be hoping to get another crack at getting to Croke Park again next year if they can get out of Mayo and Connacht when the action resumes in the championships later this year.
Tooreen: S Boland (0-6 frees ), K Feeney (1-2, 0-2 frees ), G Nolan, C Freeman, D Huane and F Boland (0-1 each ).
Fr O’Neill’s: D Dalton (0-10, 0-7 frees ), M O’Keeffe and K O’Sullivan (0-2 each ), P McMahon, E Conway, B Dunne, L O’Driscoll and C Broderick (0-1 each ).
Tooreen: S Lenehan; G Nolan, S Coyne (Capt ), C Finn; C Henry, M Morley, D Kenny; C Freeman, D Huane; S Kenny, F Boland, S Regan; S Boland, K Feeney, E Delaney. Subs: L Lavin for D Huane (25 ), J Cassidy for S Kenny (55 ), B Morley for E Delaney (59 ), D Harrison for B Morley (64 inj ).
Fr O’Neill’s: C Sloane; M Millerick, P Butler, G Millerick; J Barry, D Harrington (Joint-Capt ), T Millerick; J Millerick, K O’Sullivan; M O’Keeffe (Joint-Capt ), R Cullinane, P McMahon; E Conway, D Dalton, B Dunne. Subs: L O’Driscoll for E Conway (45 ), C Broderick for J Millerick (49 ), J Hankard for R Cullinane (54 ), S O’Connor for J Barry (55 ).